Chrome for Android no longer merging apps and tabs by default

by: Andrew GrushMarch 17, 2016


Quick show of hands, how many of you actually liked when Chrome began populating the recent apps menu with every single one of your open tabs, starting with Lollipop? I suspect that not many of you put your hands up, probably because you didn’t like the feature at all, or you realize I can’t actually see you put your hand up anyhow. Personally, this was one of the first things I shut off in the Chrome settings and was totally thankful that Google was merciful enough to give us the option of disabling this ‘feature’.

Apparently, Google must have noticed that most of us weren’t so keen on this feature as well, as it appears that newer versions of Chrome automatically disable the feature out of the box. This means that the ‘traditional’ tabs menu in Chrome is present, and Chrome is represented as just a single card in the recent apps menu. Now if you happened to actually like the multiple cards for each your browser tabs (I won’t judge you), you’ll now have to go into settings and click on the “Merge tabs and apps” option to enable it.

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Of course, this only applies to new phones or clean Chrome 49 (or higher) installations. If you were rocking an older Chrome version and merely upgraded without doing a fresh install, your current preferences will stay the same as always. This change should apply to all newer devices with current versions of Chrome going forward. I can confirm this change exists not only for the new Android N preview, but even for other new devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It was something I noticed in the review, but originally I thought it might just be a “Samsung thing”. Apparently not.

What do you think, glad to see Google moving away from the flood of browser tab cards? Or was this a feature you enjoyed? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

  • JSo

    I noticed this the other day when I did a fresh install. I actually like the merged tabs better though.

    • Andrew Grush

      I said I wouldnt judge…. :P.

      I can see how some might find it useful… Buy if often have a dozen tavs open… So quite the mess for me personally.

      • JSo

        That’s probably why I like the merged tabs. I never have more than a couple tabs open to begin with and I close them whenever I am done with them. I never understood how people could have so many tabs open at once.

        • Joshua Mendenhall

          You wouldn’t like how I browse. On my PC I generally have 4 windows open, minimum 10 tabs each.
          I close tabs when I can’t read their titles anymore. I’m a LITTLE better on mobile. But only a little.

    • EeZeEpEe

      I agree especially for my family members who don’t get the concept of Chrome tabs. Before being was available, they would have 99+ tabs waiting by the time I get to clean up their phones.

      • monsterdonutkid

        Doesn’t it show :D when you have more than 99 tabs open?

        • EeZeEpEe

          It does but they don’t notice it at the top. Like I said, they don’t get the concept of Chrome tabs when it’s not merged.

  • Lim Ming Quan

    As for me, I’m fine with both, it has never bothered me anyway.

    • monsterdonutkid

      Like… the cold? Sorry man, I had to.

  • SuperMarkert

    I never liked that feature either. Plus, enabling it also prevents another cool Chrome feature from working: swiping between tabs. If you have more than one tab open, you can swipe the address bar left-right to scroll through open tabs.
    If you enable the Merge tabs feature, then the swiping no longer works.

    • KeyserSoze

      Appreciate the tip, didn’t know I could swipe to change tabs, thanx. And yeah, I think merged tabs sux azz, always unmerge it on all my phones.

  • Diskus1

    Silly feature to begin with. Even more silly to name separate tabs “merged”, should be the other way around.

  • RunningGreat

    Good, it’s the first thing I disabled.

  • jay555

    I actually prefer having the tabs merged with my apps even though i find it pretty sloppy. The reason I like it is because it makes it easy for me to switch between tabs without having to click the button at the top of the phone. Hopefully google is indeed planning to move forward with their bottom-bar design guidelines. I would love it if Chrome would move it’s entire UI (including the address bar) to the bottom of the phone.

    I honestly don’t understand why apps are still being designed with UIs on the top given how large phones have gotten over the last few years. It would be great if eventually everything including the notification/ status bar area could be placed on the bottom of the phone, but for now I’ll settle for just chrome.

  • DDD

    It’s really only useful for people who mainly browse on their phone, so maybe 2% of the people here?

  • Brandon

    I’ve been at the forefront of Android for so long(I got a Nexus 5 a couple weeks after it was released), as an average consumer, I have just gotten used to it, but I and really glad I saw this article. I end up with like 20 cards in my recent apps screen, and half of them are Chrome tabs, and half of those are Facebook tabs. This was never a problem before.

  • JayJ

    I really disliked it when it first went live but I stuck with it to see how I got on with it and ended up getting use to it. I factory reset my 6P just a couple days ago so when I opened Chrome for the first time having the tabs icon in the corner was very strange. I’ve since switched back to merged tabs.

  • mauvis99

    Lol people still use Chrome? Butterfly all day.. It’s 745kb in size and has Ad block.

    • Frederic St-Pierre

      “What browser do you use?” “Butterfly!” …… Nope, can’t do it.

  • Sean van Zuidam

    I actually like the tabs separate it gave a more app like feel, and think Google should have not changed it

    • monsterdonutkid

      It’s not as if they completely removed it, they just disabled it by default. If you like the merged apps and tabs, you still have the option to enable it in the settings.

      • Omid

        NO! they removed it which sucks. I really liked the idea and enjoyed it. It’s not computer, It’s a phone with smaller screen which almost all application running in full screen, so it was nice for me to treat my tabs same as my other apps.
        I just can’t understand why they remove it completely instead of disable it by default.

  • Sun Sand

    Who ever thought of this in the first place at Google take this :> %₹#@&*€¢√¶|~.

  • cristianer


  • Noah Jones

    I love the merged tabs

  • Jeff Edsell

    THANK YOU! I didn’t know you could turn this off!

    Glad to hear it will be off by default. That feels so much more natural. I think the intent was that if you use a lot of web apps, they would appear as equal citizens with your other apps. But I rarely use true web apps — there just aren’t that many, and sites that have them usually offer standalone aps with better features anyway.

  • Annonymous

    Remember when they had volume controls that actually worked? Then they decided to destroy them in Lollipop in favor of the “Do Not Disturb” mode, only to kill said mode too and get half of KitKat’s volume features in Marshmallow.

    Remember when they compiled stuff when ran? Then they decided to compile stuff when it’s installed in Lollipop. Now they announced that stuff won’t be compiled during installation in Android M.

    Remember that massive campaign to use the YouTube Mixes tab? Then they updated the app and it doesn’t show that tab anymore nor half of the Mixes you could get in it.

    Then they talked about how useful the Chrome thing was, even though it was a non-feature, and now they are removing it from default.

    That’s Android for ya: regressions, regressions, regressinons.

    Stuff like this will keep happening because most Android fans will gladly accept any crap Google makes and make snarky comments about Microsoft/Apple/Mozilla/whatever company.

  • Noah Williams

    Tbh I know I’m in the minority, but I actually like this feature a lot. It allows me to fly through different tasks at once.

  • Karly Johnston

    I rolled back to Chrome 47 when they started coloring the task and status bar. Waiting for someone to tell me they give an option to disable that.

  • Mark Lynch

    I never initially liked the merge tabs feature but after believing it was the way of the future and I’d better get used to it, I’ve actually grown to like it.

  • teomor

    I have no intention of using my browser any differently on my phone, than on my PC. That means that I leave tabs open in my browser and I need to find them there when I open it up again. That’s why I turned the damn thing off when I first read about it (even though I thought it was a cool feature at the time). Clearly they don’t test features enough over at Google. And it’s becoming a trend, sadly :(